Saturday, March 01, 2008

A Line in the water?

The state of Georgia is dry. Not blessed with a lot of streams, rivers, and dammed up lakes, it has taken to begging water from it's neighbors like South Carolina. And now, a dispute as old as the state of Tennessee has presented a new attraction: water!

It seems that the smaller, more geographically blessed neighbor to the north has a river with plenty of mountain fresh water. The trouble is, it is JUST our of reach. Unlike the Savannah river to the east (which it shares with us in the fair state of South Carolina) and the Chattahoochee River to the west (which has its headwaters just south of the Atlanta airport) which it has to share with Alabama, the Tennessee River is not part of the official border. At least not on the maps.

But the law that the US government used to establish the Tennessee border specifically called for the 35th parallel to be the southern border. That line slices across a bend in the Tennessee River.

As this screen shot from Google Earth plainly shows, the tri-state corner is certainly in the Tennessee River. Clicking on it ought to give better detail.

So, what gives, Tennessee? Just because a few guys almost two hundred years ago put the corner post on land a mile south of here (who could blame them, really, especially in the winter!), it does not change the geography! The law could have designated the River as the boundary, but that would have given up a valuable water way to the "good ol' boys" established in Washington and Atlanta (or Milledgeville, or where-ever it was in those days).

Furthermore, if the boundary marker determines all points east, then Georgia should be about 140 square miles bigger. That's about the area of the city of Atlanta! Think of what developers could do with that! I grew up in Georgia back in the twentieth century [aka "the dark ages"], and my family lives there now [I'm the only foreigner], so I certainly will root for them to win this dispute. It will be giving up more than just water rights. But it will be good if the Supreme Court can come to a conclusion here pretty soon.

We will share some of our water. Tennessee can do as much.

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